Music today started with an exploration with that incredible and terrible tool Spotify. The beast that leads me to artists that I may never have discovered. In my case when I can afford it, I use Spotify to seek out the artists whose records I would like to buy. So today I explored Danish singer Agnes Obel and listened to her latest album Myopia. It was beautiful and I put in some bids on eBay for two of her albums on CD. She has four albums, how can I buy them all, especially on vinyl? This led me to my own collection and I realized I was craving Juana Molina. If you don’t know her she comes from Argentina and started as a successful actress before changing paths and making, to date, six captivating albums. I have four of them on CD, one rather tragically warped and damaged on one track on Side 1. It’s called Segundo and I found it very cheap somewhere with its water damaged buckled cover, but overall it plays ok. What kind of music is it? I’m not sure, that’s why you have Spotify, go see.

How do you follow Agnes Obel and Juana Molina? Easy, listen to Yasmine Hamdan. One of my great more recent finds. She was born in Beirut and lives in Paris. She was part of the influential Soapkills (first release 1999) and is an important voice in introducing contemporary Arabic music to the world, but also with references to the past, a forgotten Arab world. One of her favourite singers is Syrian vocalist Asmahan. I have Ya Nass (2013) (“Hey People”), which includes the song Hal which was featured in Jim Jarmusch’s film Only Lovers Left Alive (2013). In 2017 she released Al Jamilat (“The Beautiful Ones”). There’s a selection below to see her intoxicating performances. The first is Beirut from Ya Nass, then Live At KEXP on her Al Jamilat tour. Next is the Jarmusch film scene and then an amazing video from what I presume is the thirties with Asmahan. Don’t get too picky about lip-syncing. Listen to the voice, look at her clothes, check out the people, hear the song.